Bernie, His Truck and More

Bernie had a beautiful, red Chevrolet trunk. At some point he stopped driving. I don’t know when. I didn’t notice. I was more concerned with his falling. He seemed to be doing more of it. He’d fall and then the ambulance I called–I couldn’t get him up–would sometimes take him to the hospital but mostly not. He just needed someone to help him up off the floor. He’d get his walker and be fine. I thought. I didn’t quite realize he’d become housebound.

Sometimes he went to Pierce Nursing Home, the one associated Creamery Brook Village where we lived. He’d be there a week or so and then come home. I had helpers for him, hired from Day-Kimball Healthcare. They came in daily and another group came in for overnight. Only one for day and one for night.

One day he came to the doorway of the living room where I was sitting and said, “I just realized I’m not going to get better! You might as well sell the truck.”

“OK,” I said. I was glad he had realized that he wasn’t going to get better. And I was pleased I had permission to sell the truck.I took it to Sorel’s Garage and they took it over. It looked like a million dollars when they were through cleaning it. And it quickly sold. I banked the money and used it to pay our helpers. I thought it brave of him to relinquish his truck.

And it was brave of him to say to our daughter, Sara, one day, “I guess it’s time to go to Pierce.” But I think he forgot he said it. The worst days of my life, I believe, were the Monday I called Pierce and requested a bed, the Tuesday we were told we had to wait another day and the Wednesday we drove him to the nursing Home.

Maybe it was too soon. Maybe he could have waited some more. But Sara and her husband, Rob, told me it had become too stressful for me; it was bad for my health. I didn’t tell them I’d recently lost three pounds or that I lost two more, later on. When I saw my doctor she wanted to know why I’d lost all that weight and I wasn’t to lose any more. I agreed, but lost those two more pounds before I could put any weight back on.

Was it easy after that? Yes, I guess so as it was quiet at home, but no, in that I had to get used to going to see him every day. There were some problems I couldn’t solve. Sometimes he was almost cheerful and other times he was irritated at something and I couldn’t find a way to help him. In fact I could do very little to help him.

But I should have had someone build a ramp up the stairs from the garage into the house. With a ramp he could have come home. But–would he have left again and gone back to Pierce? Would he insist on staying home? I don’t know but, guilty as I felt about it, I didn’t bring him home.

So, here I sit, months after his death, still dealing with my guilt. And sorrow.

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